Everyone knows what fund raising is and most of you might have heard about it, if you have not really been directly involved with fund raising. This year in 2016, I ran my first ever fund raising campaign and I would like to share my experience before and after the campaign.
Fundraising for a personal Campaign – A Taboo
Coming from India and specifically from the family, where they taught me to be self-sufficient and independent in every means, so that I don’t have to ask someone for help. It is not just me and my family, but most families coming from the middle class background which is a huge section of the Indian society thinks in similar way. The whole concept of personal fund raising is still alien and literally comparable to begging, an act which shows that you are not capable to do something yourself, you are not self-sufficient, which is why you are asking for help.
Fund raising is only done and seen as appropriate, when done by non-governmental organizations or charitable institutions to tackle a community issue. A person doing funding for him/her to go for a conference or to apply for a course or to support a campaign etc. is unfamiliar to people and honestly majority of the people do not even do it because of the reason of how it is perceived. It’s like ….. ohhh!! She/he is asking for money, automatically they will put you in the category of being financially underprivileged.
Even I had the common shared feeling, I would never ask for money from someone …. NO!
An altered experience
Then I came to United States to do a fellowship in Washington DC. We live on a very tight stipend which is just enough to cover my food, accommodation, transportation and other daily needs. Now, being in the states, I wanted to capitalize the opportunities that I was surrounded with, I applied for a conference called Starting Bloc and I got selected to participate in the 5 day institute but they did not offer me a scholarship. I did not want to miss this brilliant opportunity, so as suggested by the organizing committee of the Organization, I started my fund raising campaign with a feeling of doubt, discomfort and embarrassment to a certain extent. I was not sure, if I will be able to raise the money and if people in the US will fund me, I had literally no expectations from people back home, in India. But, I decided to give it a shot, have my back up plan in place and put aside my feelings to try out. Trying never harms anybody.
The campaign took a bit of time to take pace, I had to promote it all the time on social media, I was hesitant and I was thinking of what people are going to think of me for asking money from them…. Well, I decide to not care. The reason why I was able to do the same was a simple realization, the people who want to help me in my cause will help me and support me and will look at me in a nice way anyways and I am not forcing anyone to contribute or support me, so why should I care about the rest of people. They are most welcome to ignore me but at least I am going for what I believe in and making effort to make it a reality.
I got my first donor from my own city, within 2 days of starting my campaign. He is an alumni from my previous organization (AIESEC), where we both worked but at different times. When I said thank you to him to kick start my campaign, he just said, you know I understand when you are young and need support, I just want you to remember to give this support back, when you can in future because you have received it. I was so touched by his words, that I suddenly became excited, motivated and I promised myself, I will help others when I can with a lot more joy now 🙂
It did not end just at him, my new friends in US contributed what they could, because they believed in me. What I could not believe was the fact that my friends from home donated the maximum amount and I was awed at their willingness to support me and help me. There were other friends of mine from around the world (Kazakhstan and Italy) who I have not spoken to in years contributed. My students, who I teach Hindi contributed and to put cherry on the cake, I got partial scholarship form the organizers. So, I finished my campaign because I had already raised the rest of the money needed after the partial scholarship.
People are more amazing, more helpful and more generous than what we think of them, they will help if they can. Sometimes, they think their little contribution would not make any difference, which holds them back to do that little contribution but well, they have no idea of how big of a difference they are making by their little contribution. I remember each donation I got whether it was 10 USD or 200 USD, I was equally happy not just because I raised some money but mostly because I was so happy to discover a new person willing to help me every time. I cannot express my feeling every time i saw a new contributor to my campaign.
🙂 🙂 🙂 Through this blog, I am taking the opportunity to thank each one of the individual who contributed, I do not need to mention your names, but your act of help has inspired me to help others, when I can and I will.
“There is no small contribution – there is just contribution”
Sometimes, we do not ask things thinking that we will have to give back in some way or the other. Taking my own example, I would never ask for help, ensuring and running away from returning the favor. But then someone intelligent, a woman named “Yulia Dmyterko” taught me, when you ask for help, it does not make you weak or any less, it is not a sign of weakness. It is rather a sign of strength and courage, the fact that you can admit that can’t do something by yourself and you ask for help, you put your ego aside and you finish the task with everybody’s help/contribution.
And I also learnt that you should ask for help when you need, so that you are blessed with an opportunity to return the favor because the feeling that you get when you have really helped someone with something is out of the world, it is exhilarating, it is one of those feeling for which we work for our whole lives. Still we run away from it. Why? Human beings are such strange creatures that they know everything yet they fail to sometimes understand anything.
My takeaways from the Campaign.
- Contribute whenever or whatever you can, in which every way you can. It teaches you a lot. Nothing is a small contribution. It makes you stronger.
- Ask for help when you really need it, there is no shame in asking for help, be grateful when you get it and be ready to return the favor, it’s an opportunity, not a burden.
- Although, you love giving and hate taking but sometimes you have to be on the receiving end to be able to later, give it back 😀
Keep Contributing !!